Unlike team sports, tennis is either a one on one game or played two against two in the case of doubles. This makes for a different type of competition and some of the most skilled players can let themselves down by lacking mental control.
Whether you play tennis just for fun or fitness or you are a serious competitive player you will have noticed your own patterns of frustration when you miss shots you feel you should have got to or you will have trained yourself to let go and move on from these situations with a cooler head.
Bjorn Borg is an excellent example of a player who almost always kept a cool head. Between 1976 and 1980 Borg pulled off five successive victories and also had three successive years winning the most difficult double in tennis – victory on Wimbledon grass and on the French Open clay courts.
Borg’s best qualities were his mental strength, speed around the court and heavily top spun ground strokes. His mental strength rescued him four times from looming defeat during his years of success at Wimbledon.
In 1981 he was between by John McEnroe who was the legend who played tennis with a temper. The matches between Borg and McEnroe were incredible to watch both for the tennis and the chalk and cheese personalities of these two great players.
Even if you play tennis just for fun and exercise it can be a more enjoyable experience if you learn how to control your mind. If however you are training to play competitively learning this skill is a must so that that you don’t disturb your game with loss of concentration by living in your past mistakes.
Pete Sampras said: “You need the game, you need the heart, and you need the mind.” Tennis playing involves mental challenges however anyone can train to improve their mental aspect of the game. In the same way as the physical side of the game of tennis, the mental side takes time and practice to learn.
Many tennis players get lost in the emotional turbulence during the match and end of playing tennis below their real potential. This process can often start with pre-match nerves and turn into an unmanageable emotional rollercoaster during the match.
These days Rafa Nadal is another great player who has the “never say die” mental attitude. His game of tennis is full of perseverance, fight and a touch mental attitude. Nadal was first coached by his uncle Tony and another uncle is a former professional soccer player. It could be said that Nadal has it in his genes to some extent, but it can be learnt.